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Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay

The rescue of cousins Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) after being swept out to sea on paddleboards captured the attention of the country last August. How a balmy summer's evening quickly turned into a nightmare for the cousins' parents onshore, to the quick-witted reaction of the two women to lash the boards together, to the fishermen who realised the initial search was too focused on inner Galway Bay.

A story of endurance as Sara and Ellen survived 15 hours at sea, and the tears of relief among hundreds of volunteers searching the Galway and Clare coastlines and in Galway RNLI lifeboat station, where the volunteer crews have recovered more bodies than most of them care to remember.

When 23-year old NUI Galway graduate Sara Feeney and her 17-year old cousin Ellen Glynn set out for a short spin on paddleboards one evening in mid-August 2020, they only expected to be on the water for a short time.

Covid-19 restrictions had prevented them from going to their closest beach at Silver Strand on north Galway Bay, so they drove out with Sara's mum Helen to Furbo beach, 12 km west of Galway city.

There were swimmers in the water, enjoying the heat in fading light as they pumped up the inflatable boards and took to the water at around 9.30pm.

Sara's mum Helen walked her dog, Otis, along the short shoreline. Within a short space of time she wondered why she couldn't see the cousins on the water.

Little did she know at that time that the two women were shouting and frantically waving their paddles, unable to make it back to shore.

The northerly breeze had turned north-easterly and gained in strength, and the two women had no means of communication – Ellen had forgotten her wet bag that normally carried her mobile phone. They were wearing lifejackets, but no wetsuits – only bikinis – and had no food or water.

Realising they were in danger of being separated, the two women strapped their boards together. Back on shore, Helen Feeney had dialled the emergency services and had been put through to the Irish Coast Guard.

For a time, the two women remained confident that they would be located and were initially only worried about all the trouble they would have caused. As darkness fell and the hours passed, they spotted boats and a helicopter coming close enough to light up the sea around them, but in the vast sea area, they could neither be seen nor heard.

Shooting stars and bioluminescence lifted their spirits briefly, and Ellen sang every Taylor Swift song that she knew. Conditions worsened, with heavy rain. When a lightning storm forced an Irish Coast Guard helicopter to fly off to the north, they knew they would have to try and survive the night. By now, they were clinging to their boards in a heavy swell.

As the fog lifted well after dawn, they realised just how much trouble they were in, with the Cliffs of Mother just south of them, the Aran island of Inis Oírr to the north, and the Atlantic to the west.

They had been carried all of 18 nautical miles or 33 kilometres diagonally across Galway Bay and out into the ocean. A chance sighting of floats attached to crab pots set by Aran fisherman Bertie Donohue saved them from drifting further.

When they were located by Galway fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan in their catamaran, Johnny Ó, the two women had been the focus of a major air/sea search co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard and had spent 15 hours at sea. "We found them, but they saved themselves," Patrick Oliver would say later.

Fishermen Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan located the girlsFishermen Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan located the girls

This documentary features interviews with Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn and their families one year on, speaking also to key people involved in their rescue, recalling how a balmy evening turned into a long, dark terrifying 15 hours that will be remembered as the miracle of Galway Bay.

Narrated by Lorna Siggins

Produced by Lorna Siggins and Sarah Blake

Sound Supervision by John Doyle and Peadar Carney

Available for podcast on Thursday 29th July

Broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday 1st August @ 6pm, Monday 2nd August @ 3pm, and Tuesday 3rd August @ 10pm

Published in Rescue

Ireland's Mirror dinghy fleet had their Western Championships this weekend at Galway Bay Sailing Club last weekend.

A fleet of 24 took to Galway Bay for 6 races over the two days under Race Officer Dave Vinnell in challenging light winds on the Saturday with a nice sea breeze filling in on the Sunday - both days sailed in very high temperatures.

The event also saw many new faces with clubs putting in tremendous logistical arrangements to make it a bumper fleet.

The overall championship winners were Thomas & Ben Chaix of Tralee Bay Sailing Club.

Mirror dinghy competitors at Galway Bay Sailing ClubMirror dinghy competitors at Galway Bay Sailing Club

Silver fleet winners were Matthew Turner & Donncha Dullea of LRYC with 2nd and 3rd placings going to Blessington sailors Alexander Fought & Zoe Hemsing and Lisa & Annika Flynn respectively.

Bronze fleet winners were Lucas Flynn & Adam Stanley of BSC. Second was Conal MacThreinfhir & William Walsh of TBSC with third going to Cora McNaughton & Sinead Evans of BSC.

Youth winners of the inaugural Killinure Cup and 2nd overall was Eoghan Duffy LRYC & Cathal Langan CYBC with third place going to Jessica & Mark Greer of Sligo Yacht Club.

The next event is the Nationals in Sligo Yacht Club on Aug 20-22.

Published in Mirror
Tagged under

One of Ireland’s longest one-day sea swimming events will extend over a month this year, as the annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim goes “virtual” again.

The event in aid of Cancer Care West, which is now in its 16th year, raised a record-breaking 185,000 euro in 2020 when it was re-imagined to meet Covid-19 restrictions.

It would normally see 150 people crossing the bay one day in July, swimming 13km solo or in relay teams from Aughinish, Co Clare to Salthill’s Blackrock diving tower.

Since the swim began 15 years ago, a total of 740 people have transited the bay.

As with last year’s format, participants are encouraged to swim a total of 13km during the month of August – which can be broken up, and can take place anywhere in the world.

“The swim is much more than a fundraiser; it's the swimming highlight for so many across Ireland,” Cancer Care West director Brian Thornton has explained.

“Last year, the swimming community in Ireland and swimmers around the world as far as Australia took to the water and made the 2020 Galway Bay Swim one we truly will never forget, for all the right reasons,” he says.

“ We would naturally love to be swimming the bay in one day but until we can do this safely, this month-long event allows everyone to be part of something so positive,” he says.

"The monies raised will help fund support services for cancer patients and their families through our support centres ” he adds.

All year round swimmer Paddy McNamara says the event gives an opportunity to swimmers of all abilities to do something special for Cancer Care West.

“This challenge can be completed anywhere in the world so it would be great to see a local and international element to the event," he says.

Participants are asked to raise €100 for Cancer Care West and those who complete the challenge qualify for a Galway Bay Swim t-shirt and a branded swim cap.

Registration is open now here

Published in Sea Swim
Tagged under

Galway City Sailing Club started in 2011 with two boats writes Sharon De Bhaldraithe. Now in 2021, as they celebrate its tenth year of sailing in the city, its fleet of modern boats include Argos & Picos, Optibats, and a host of boats owned by members with a dinghy park in the harbour to store them plus three supporting ribs in a hanger and a tractor for launching and recovery!

The club was founded by a group of dinghy sailing enthusiasts from Galway Bay Sailing Club and others who wished to bring sailing into the heart of Galway and who were encouraged and supported by the late Bobby Molloy and by Paul Colleran in the 10 years it took to realize their vision. The Harbour Master; Brian Sheridan, the Harbour Board, and John Killeen of Cold Chon generously provided the facilities to give the club a start. Because of this, the club has given many adults and children the opportunity to learn to sail over the past 10 years.

Furthermore, central to the ethos of the club has been the emphasis on the preservation of the marine environment and the instruction of the children on the importance of marine ecology. The aim and vision of Galway City Sailing Club continues to be making sailing accessible in the heart of Galway City, a city with a rich sailing heritage.

The club sees itself as an integral part of the development of Galway’s marine future with enhanced activity on the sea in the heart of Galway, providing sailing for all including for those with disabilities, and providing an attractive spectacle as well as serious training for the city's keen sailor. 

2021 has been exciting already with one of our founding members Nancy Roe getting the inaugural Irish Sailing Leadership Award, a brand new award to recognise leadership and vision. Nancy won the award on the basis of her long term commitment to making sailing accessible to all. Galway City Sailing Club will host (within covid restrictions) lots of activities on and off the water this our 10th year sailing in the city.

The Mayor of Galway Cllr. Colette Connolly attended our 10 year BBQ on the 10th of July and going out to 'try' sailing on one of our Argos, The Mayor was a great helm!

Surrounding clubs, CRYC, Galway Hooker Sailing Club, GBSC, Nuig Sailing Club were all in attendance to support our 10 years of sailing in the city for everyone!

Published in Galway Harbour

Galway Bay Sailing Club is expecting 50 boats or more to participate in the club's August's Lambs Week event that features sailing around the Aran Islands with stopovers in Rossaveal, Kilronan and Roundstone.

The event runs from August 19th to 23rd.

A group of Galway Bay volunteers are working on mooring blocks, berthing arrangements, racing handicaps and schedules, food and refreshments, safety, and fashion (polo shirts!).

More here

Published in Galway Harbour
Tagged under

A Galway hooker restored with the support of a city publican has joined the local traditional fleet on Galway bay.

Réalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south Connemara, by the Cloherty boat builders in 1910.

It has been restored by Bádoirí an Chladaigh, one of the two clubs dedicated to Galway hookers in the city, with the help of Johnny Duggan of Taylor’s Bar.

Bádóirí an Chladaigh has been given the full use of the boat to add to a fleet of 14 traditional vessels.

Taylor’s Bar owner Johnny DugganTaylor’s Bar owner Johnny Duggan

“Since 2008, Bádóirí an Chladaigh has been given trusteeship of seven traditional Galway sailing boats within the community boat club,” the club’s secretary Peter Connolly says.

“ Of these, five have been built or restored or are in the process of being brought to full sea-worthiness,” he says.

Réalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south ConnemaraRéalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south Connemara

“These seven traditional boats will be joined by seven private boats to create a fleet of 14 boats, and each will represent one of the Galway tribe families,” he says.

“The community of traders in Galway's West will be responsible for the yearly upkeep of the Galway Hooker,” Taylor’s Bar owner Johnny Duggan says.

“ There is a massive natural respect here in Galway’s for the sea and this age-old tradition, but this will help to reaffirm and re-establish these links again,” he says.

Published in Galway Hookers
Tagged under

Porpoises, dolphins, fin whales, puffins and guillemots near the Cliffs of Moher...master of the new Aran island ferry Shane McCole promises much marine life on the new direct run between Galway city and Inis Mór.

The 40-metre vessel Saoirse na Farraige, commissioned by the O’Brien family of Carraroe, began its 90-minute sailing schedule last month as Afloat reported here.

Passengers leaving from Galway docks in the morning have the option of a return journey via the north Clare cliffs.

The 40-metre vessel Saoirse na FarraigeThe 40-metre vessel Saoirse na Farraige

Saoirse na Farraige claims to have “ the cleanest exhaust emission” of any ferry on Irish waters.

The vessel built in Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong has a speed of 20 knots, and can carry 394 passengers – as in 306 passengers on the main deck, and a semi-covered space for 88 passengers on the top deck.

Shane McCole at the helm of the new Aran Islands direct ferryShane McCole at the helm of the new Aran Islands direct ferry

It is fitted with leather seating, a wheelchair lift, charging points and plasma screens – earning it the local nickname of “GoBus sur mer”.

It is almost 150 years ago since the paddle tug Citie of the Tribes run by the Galway Steamship Company took the same route from the docks to Cill Rónain.

The O’Briens of Carraroe, who took their first passengers to the Aran islands on the Galway hooker An Tonaí almost four decades back, are reporting brisk interest in the route. They are continuing the ferry service between Ros-a-Mhíl in Co Galway and all three islands.

Wavelengths took a run on the vessel and spoke to Shane McCole. Listen to Wavelengths here

Published in Wavelength Podcast

Tributes have been paid to the quick thinking of a Galway Bay Sailing Club instruction team for their rescue of a man from a car in the water at the weekend.

As Afloat reported previously, a senior instructor at GBSC worked with a 15-year old powerboat driver to pull the man from a vehicle.

The incident occurred at the club at Rinville pier near Oranmore on Saturday afternoon.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, the pair had been among a team tutoring local sea scouts on the water, and had been bringing two groups of the scouts ashore when the incident occurred.

“Callie and I were on the slip and showing the scouts some sailing knots, when we heard something smash through the railings and a car flew into the air and hit the water,” powerboat driver Cormac Conneely said.

“Callie immediately jumped into the rigid inflatable boat (rib) with me, shouted to the group leader to call 999, and I called to the rest of the team to get the scouts inside the club,” he said.

“The car was still floating and Callie got her sailing knife and jammed it into the driver’s window to stop it from closing,” he said.

“She then cut the driver’s safety belt, and we pulled him out through the car window and into the rib,”Conneely continued.

Fortunately, a separate first aid course was being run in the sailing club at the time.

A paramedic instructing on the course treated the man until the Galway fire and ambulance service and Galway RNLI arrived on scene.

The Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter had also been alerted after the emergency call.

The senior instructor threw her grapnel anchor and chain in the front window of the car to secure it.

With the assistance of a local Galway hooker sailor Sean Furey, who was on the water in a currach, they then towed the car ashore.

The 15-year old, who is a pupil at Coláiste Iognaid or “the Jez” in Galway, learned to sail with Robert McInerney on Inishbofin, and undertook a number of sailing and powerboat training courses.

Conneely’s dream is to join the Naval Service on leaving school, and to volunteer for the RNLI Galway lifeboat crew when he is old enough.

He emphasised that fellow GBSC instructors and assistants onshore, including Tom Ryan, Ben Schumaker, Ella Lyons, Veronica O’Dowd and Mattie Kennedy, were vital in dealing with the rescue effort.

His mother Teresita Nugent said she was very proud of her son, who had a long-held passion for the water.

Gardaí and fire brigade staff praised efforts of the instructors, as did experienced Galway sailor Pierce Purcell, who has had many years of involved with the Irish Sailing Association.

“ Having been involved with Irish sailing for some 50 years, I am very conscious of the contribution that it makes throughout the island of Ireland - not only with sailing clubs and training centres but scouting and disadvantaged groups,”Purcell said.

Read The Times here

Published in Galway Harbour

In the UK plans to save a "unique" D-Day historic vessel moored in Southampton have been unveiled - ending years of anxiety over its future, having as Afloat reported also spent a career tending to trans-Atlantic liner passengers in Galway Bay.

According to the DailyEcho, the tug tender Calshot has been bought by a maritime restoration company, which is drawing up proposals to restore the vessel over the next three years.

Tomorrow Calshot (was towed on 25th May) from Southampton docks to James Wharf at Ocean Quay at Belvidere Road.

(Afloat adds another former Aran Islands ferry, Naomh Éanna (see story) still remains languishing in a poor state in one of Dublin's Grand Canal Docks Basin's notable Georgian built dry-docks).

The Calshot was launched in 1929 and helped manoeuvre the world’s greatest ocean liners as they either entered or left the port.

In 1944 she was one of more than 7,000 vessels which took part in the D-Day landings.

She transported sections of the famous Mulberry harbour across the English Channel to France and also served as a “non-assault HQ ship”.

But the Southampton-built vessel was declared unseaworthy by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in 2017.

For years she was owned by the Tug Tender Calshot Trust (TTCT), which warned she was slowly deteriorating and should be moved ashore in a bid to preserve her for the nation.

For much more on this historic vessel, click on the story here

Published in Historic Boats

The Connaught Telegraph reports that Galway city councillors are tendering for a study on the feasibility of a new blueway for Galway and Mayo.

According to details on the State’s eTenders website, the proposed blueway would extend from Lough Mask to Galway Bay along the River Corrib and associated inland waterways, and include a zone some 5-10km inland.

The deadline for submissions is noon next Friday 11 June with the prospective contractor expected to conduct an analysis of the potential economic and social benefits of such a blueway, among other requirements.

Published in Inland Waterways
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